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Criminal Justice

Two Plead Guilty In Organized Theft Of $1 Million Worth Of Goods

A dark red sign is emblazoned with white bright letters saying "JCPenney" is emblazoned inside a large retail mall at the entrance of a JCPenney department store inside a large mall. There are escalators below the sign, as well as a few beige floors left of the large sign, where mall-goers mill about.
Local law enforcement agencies teamed up with the California Highway Patrol to bust two members of an organized retail crime crew who stole $1 million in goods from retail stores.
(Drew Angerer
/
Getty Images North America)
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California is cracking down on organized retail thefts.

State Attorney General Rob Bonta announced guilty pleas from two members of a crew that hit several JCPenney and Sam's Club stores — including some in L.A. and San Bernardino counties — making off with a total of about $1 million in goods.

Charges have also been filed against two other suspected members of the crew.

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"This criminal activity we know is unacceptable. It harms businesses, it harms retailers, it harms consumers, and it puts the public at risk," Bonta stated.

According to Bonta, who is running for reelection this year, the two members stole high-end jewelry after breaking into numerous retail stores spanning from San Bernardino all the way to Sacramento.

The two-year investigation was led by the California Highway Patrol’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force and collaborations with local law enforcement agencies and retailers throughout California.

The two defendants were found after police located evidence of merchandise in their homes, which they allegedly planned to sell, exchange, or return for value.

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Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1065 in 2018 which established a new Organized Retail Crime felony and widened jurisdiction for law enforcement authorities throughout different counties where retail thefts occurred.

It also allowed CHP to partner with the Department of Justice to create the task force, which identifies regions with high levels of retail crime and designates resources to local law enforcement agencies.

The CHP’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force will be operating until 2026 due to another recent bill signed by the governor in 2021. The governor also proposed a budget increase for the program from 2022-2023.

The state's launching an online portal where the public can submit complaints and tips on this kind of crime. You can find it on the state attorney general's website at oag.ca.gov.

What questions do you have about Southern California?